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					The Green Town Project

 A private and public sector partnership
 to re-green and revitalize a rustbelt city



  “Ray Bradbury was born in Green Town, make that Waukegan,
  on August 22, 1920, …the idyllic small American town that is
  the backdrop for Ray Bradbury’s autobiographical novel called
  Dandelion Wine. …A fan cannot read an interview with Ray or
  Dandelion Wine and not understand that Ray will always regard
  Waukegan, Illinois as his hometown and that his Waukegan years
  as a youth were the best years of his life.”

                                                 Mark Rhoads
                                                 Illinois Hall of Fame




                   Contact person:

                   Newton Finn
                   TOWN Chair and Legal Counsel
                   128 N. West Street
                   Waukegan, IL 60085
                   Tel. 847/599-0202
                   Cell 847/278-0677
                   Fax 847/599-0404
                   finnnewton@waukegan.com
                              The City of Waukegan, Illinois


       Lake County’s largest city and county seat, Waukegan became a bustling Lake Michigan port
and industrial center due to its convenient harbor midway between Chicago and Milwaukee. But during
the 1980’s, as the rest of Lake County thrived, Waukegan slowly declined. Manufacturing plants closed
down, middle-class flight set in, and the city found itself challenged with high unemployment, fragile
neighborhoods, boarded-up buildings and slipping schools. Then into the vacuum came thousands of
new immigrants, many undocumented and desperate to find work, swelling the city’s population to more
than 90,000. The latest “Report Card” for the Waukegan public school system shows that more than
62% of its student body—which as a whole is about 70% Latino, 21% black and 9% white—comes from
low-income families.
       Recently, however, Waukegan has taken preliminary steps to recapture its prosperity. A classic
downtown movie house has been transformed into a Broadway-style theatre, and a Main Street program
has facilitated the opening of several new restaurants nearby. A vacant shopping center on the city’s
west side has been demolished, and some commercial reconstruction has occurred. A master lakefront
development plan is beginning to address pollution problems and to attract potential investors. And
urban pioneers are purchasing and rehabbing homes of character in Waukegan’s older neighborhoods,
keeping the average sales price of a home above $160,000. If ethnic divides can be bridged, if the city’s
appearance and image can be enhanced, then Waukegan will be poised to catch the wave of
redevelopment that has lifted other rustbelt cities.




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                     Taskforce On Waukegan Neighborhoods


       Thirteen years ago, a small group of Waukegan residents met in a downtown church to explore
how they might help to meet their city’s challenges. The upshot was the formation of a citizens’ group
called the Taskforce On Waukegan Neighborhoods (TOWN), with a mission to protect neighborhoods
and connect neighbors through an aggressive campaign to stop urban decay. Using a law that authorized
the private enforcement of municipal building codes, TOWN offered legal counsel to Waukegan
residents to empower them to clean up blighted properties. The response was overwhelming, and some
150 cases were successfully litigated to compel the repair or demolition of abandoned buildings, slums,
drug houses and other neighborhood nuisances.
       Growing to more than 500 members and re-organizing as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation,
TOWN worked with city government and the local park district to maintain and beautify public areas,
brought speakers on urban issues to public meetings, published informative newsletters and investigative
reports, registered voters and hosted candidate debates, and created a state-of-the-art website—including
a citizens’ forum and pod-casted radio shows—that currently draws about 1,000,000 hits per month
(www.waukegan.org). In 1999, TOWN was proud to be among a select group of volunteer organizations
to receive a President’s Service Award in the nationwide Point of Light competition, a citation signed by
President Clinton recognizing TOWN’s “exemplary achievements.”




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                        The Green Town Project

                           A partnership between The City of Waukegan,
                                  University of Illinois Extension
                           and Taskforce On Waukegan Neighborhoods



       What is happening in Chicago and other cities can happen in Waukegan. A comprehensive,
cutting-edge urban gardening project, building upon pioneering programs like Chicago: Eat Local/Live
Healthy (excerpts attached) can sow seeds of success throughout our city—producing locally-grown
food; spinning off related businesses and jobs; dressing up vacant lots and major corridors; protecting
and beautifying Waukegan River ravines; promoting environmental, agricultural and nutritional
education; and pulling diverse residents together in mutual efforts to improve our city’s appearance and
quality of life. As Waukegan begins its redevelopment, it can become Ray Bradbury’s 21st Century
Green Town, with community vegetable gardens, flower gardens, rain gardens and their offshoots
enhancing health, beauty and prosperity citywide.
       Waukegan’s government is committed to the renewal of our city, bringing vitality back to key
areas like the lakefront, the downtown and the former Lakehurst Shopping Center site (Fountain
Square). University of Illinois Extension offers the resources and expertise of a major university and
many years of experience in urban gardening in Chicago and other communities. TOWN offers the
energy and enthusiasm of its members and a long record of accomplishment for our city. We are
committed to work as partners, along with others who share the vision, to re-green Waukegan, beginning
with a network of urban gardens that will take root, bloom and spread throughout our community.
Nothing could do more at this moment to invigorate Waukegan’s spirit and knit our multi-ethnic
residents together, from grade school students to grandparents.




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       Phase One of the Green Town Project will include initiatives such as:


       •   The creation of a year-round community vegetable garden and market on Waukegan’s
           south side to provide healthy home-grown produce in an area with limited access to grocery
           stores; to offer hands-on education to young people and other residents about the
           environment, agriculture and nutrition; and to jumpstart spin-off businesses and employment
           opportunities in local food processing, storage and distribution, composting, etc.


       •   The creation of a colorful, attractive urban wildflower and wildlife prairie habitat in the
           Commonwealth Edison power line right-of-way on Waukegan’s north side that stretches
           from the lakefront plant to the western border of our city, a project that would draw media
           attention and ecology-minded visitors as have similar power line restorations that
           Commonwealth Edison has permitted and encouraged in other communities.


       •   Working with city departments, the Waukegan Park District, the Citizens’ Advisory Group
           (CAG) and other organizations to protect and restore our magnificent Waukegan River
           ravine system, creating rain gardens and other vegetation buffers along ravine borders and
           slopes as called for by a CAG action plan designed to control erosion, filter out pollutants
           and help preserve this priceless asset for present and future generations.


       •   Working with neighborhoods, schools and churches to beautify our city’s vacant lots,
           especially those along highly-traveled corridors, with a variety of visually appealing
           vegetable and flower gardens, bonding people together in common tasks and putting
           prominent, often unsightly open spaces to productive use awaiting redevelopment.


       Phase Two will continue these initiatives and seek to expand the Green Town Project into
additional enterprises such as green roofs, hoop greenhouse farms, honey production, downtown and
shopping mall beautification, lakefront bio-cleansing/thermal energy projects, a Waukegan botanical
garden, Green Town music and culture fests and a Ray Bradbury Center dedicated to the exploration of
emerging green technologies leading to the sustainable city of the future.


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       We would greatly appreciate your support of this private and public sector partnership to re-
green and revitalize a rustbelt city, a project that will benefit not only Waukegan but all of Lake
County, which has long awaited the resurgence of its largest city, its Great Lakes port and county
seat. Will you help our community move beyond its challenges and work together to plant the seeds of a
promising future? Will you help us transform Waukegan into Green Town? Please let us know if
additional information is desired, and thank you for considering our request.




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